NCAI responds to criticism from Rep. Young on land-into-trust

National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby. Photo from Facebook

The National Congress of American Indians still hopes to work with Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) despite being the subject of an angry lashing at a recent hearing on the land-into-trust process.

Young, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, insinuated that NCAI was questioning his commitment to Indian Country at the May 14 hearing. But the nation's largest inter-tribal organization said it will continue to provide important historical context about the General Allotment Act and the Indian Reorganization Act, the law that authorized the land-into-trust process.

“As an advocacy organization, NCAI heard concerns from our member tribes about the tone and direction of the subcommittee hearing. In particular the title of the hear was a concern, the hearing memo seemed to indicate that the Dawes Act was ‘humane’ and called into question the constitutionality of the Indian Reorganization Act," NCAI said in a statement to Indian Country Today. "Tribal land recovery is an issue with a long history so we felt it was important to educate committee members on that history and benefits of land to trust."

Indianz.Com SoundCloud: House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Oversight Hearing on Inadequate Standards for Trust Land Acquisition in the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934

NCAI isn't alone in questioning the way Young handled the proceeding. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), the only member of a federally recognized tribe in Congress, questioned the hearing memo that was prepared by the Republican staff on the subcommittee.

Attorney Bryan Newland, a former Bureau of Indian Affairs aide, also dispelled the way the memo characterized the allotment and land-into-trust policies.

Despite the hiccups, NCAI still hopes to work with Young on a fix to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. Young has said he wants to address the 2009 ruling to resolve doubts about the land-into-trust process.

"NCAI looks forward to meeting with the Chairman to discuss any misunderstanding and working together to move the Carcieri fix through Congress," the organization said in a statement to ICT.

Get the Story:
Rep. Don Young is Leading an Assault on Native Rights (Indian Country Today 5/27)

Committee Notice:
Oversight Hearing on "Inadequate Standards for Trust Land Acquisition in the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934." (May 14, 2015)

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